aussies first to feel vibe

EXPECT to hear crazy South African soccer fans sing "the 2010 World Cup is finally here, we can feel it" loud and clear as the vibe surrounding the spectacle reaches another level this morning.

EXPECT to hear crazy South African soccer fans sing "the 2010 World Cup is finally here, we can feel it" loud and clear as the vibe surrounding the spectacle reaches another level this morning.

And the grandiose OR Tambo International Airport should be where the hype begins as early as 6.30am. This is the time when the Australians will land, becoming the first of the 32 World Cup teams to arrive in the country.

Ironically, Australia was bandied about by our "Doubting Thomases" as an alternative to host the 2010 World Cup, through Fifa's much maligned Plan B.

By Sunday there will be four teams in the country and this will drum up much interest among the millions of South Africans who are awaiting the kickoff of the world's biggest single-code sporting event on June 11.

The "feel it, it is here" song is popular among young and old South Africans and other African nationals here sing it with pride. This proves that the World Cup is for the continent.

"Much has been said and written about this World Cup and I'm over the moon that the teams are finally coming home for the tournament," Thabo Nkosi from Johannesburg said yesterday.

"The whole thing started as just another promise that we will host a tournament as big as the World Cup and me and my friends did not think that the tournament will finally be staged here at home. So we are feeling it and can't wait for June 11 when the ball finally starts rolling," said Nkosi from the Rosebank mall yesterday.

He was among a horde of soccer devotees who express their delight that teams are starting to arrive.

"I have heard many stories about this Australia regarding their ambition to take the World Cup from us," said Tshidi Nkoana from Johannesburg.

"It is very interesting that they are the ones who are coming here, let's see if they will not be the first ones to leave."

The Socceroos open their Group H campaign against Germany on June 13.

Local fans and their Brazilian counterparts are expected to go wild in celebration when the mighty Brazil arrive in the country on Friday. Despite not coming with playmaker Ronaldinho who is on stand-by after coach Dunga overlooked him for the 23-man squad, Brazil have household names to steal the limelight.

There will be 20 teams in the country in the next 12 days as kickoff draws nearer. The last team to arrive, and probably not the first to leave, will be European champions Spain.

They will arrive on the day of the kickoff, ahead of their opener against Switzerland at the Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on June 16.

They will then engage Honduras at Soccer City on June 21, before wrapping up their Group H assignments against Chile at Loftus four days later.

There is nothing untoward about Spain arriving on the day the event kicks off because teams have not been given specific dates to be in the country, as long as they are on time for their matches.

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